Letter to the editor

Following is a response to an FCW.com poll question that asked: "Is it necessary to create a chief acquisition officer at each agency?"

I wish you had stated the rest of the proposition. The proposal is to create a chief acquisition official who is a political appointee.

Surely you can imagine the eventual outcome of putting someone in charge of acquisitions who is politically responsive in terms of contractors, equipment, software, etc. The justification for this may be to remedy acquisition abuses, but it would do just the opposite. Supporters of whatever party is in power would have more contracts, whether or not they were the best suited to provide the goods or services the agency needed to most effectively address its mission.

The usual misquote of Lord Acton aside ["Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."], I cannot imagine any other reason for making this job a political appointment.

Even the national management association that both the Bush and Clinton administrations invited to study the U.S. bureaucracy has advised fewer, not more, political appointees. The lower-level appointments are not even vetted by Congress, and now there are even political appointees in some organizations below the Senior Executive Service ranks in the General Service grades.

To sum, the political faction in power at any one time already has the capability of exercising micromanagerial control over the workings of the executive department of government. We do not need politically responsive individuals controlling the large contracts and day-to-day expenditures upon which the effectiveness of the cabinet departments and independent agencies depend.

Name withheld by request

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